I don’t come to my transphobia out of ignorance. I spend a lot of time reading both sides of the issue. It’s just that when it comes to my two sticking points, sports and prison, one side has terrible arguments.
The latest terrible argument is found in the blog of a trans man named Evan. He’s responding to an article in the Atlantic that says that female athletic stars, like Katie Ledecky, Megan Rapinoe, and Angel Reese, would not have been stars if they didn’t have sex-segregated sports in which to succeed.
Coleman believes that every woman who has become a star athlete would be nothing if men and women in sports were treated equally. It’s a widely held belief among transphobes, who view women’s inferiority as a biological weakness that can never be overcome, only made allowances for. Rather than seeing women as inherently equal to men and held back by generation upon generation of sexism and exploitation, this view of women places them permanently below men due to biology, necessitating special protections from the natural dominance and danger men embody. Women in this worldview are hothouse flowers, beautiful but vulnerable.Assigned Media: Trans Exclusion Promotes a Belief in Women’s Inferiority
It’s as if the author has never actually watched athletic events. Sexism is why Usain Bolt is Earth’s fastest human on land? Who knew?
Sure, yes, females are inherently equal to males in the eyes of God, under the laws of the land, and in every other social and intellectual sphere.
But to posit that female bodies and male bodies are fundamentally equal, not differing greatly in size, speed, quickness, agility, flexibility, stamina, pain tolerance, blood cells, bone density, heart volume, and lung capacity, is gaslighting in the service of an ideological agenda, and contrary to the results of millennia of athletic competition and centuries of scientific understanding.
The author even agrees with me, without intending to.
Women have higher pain tolerance, and may have more endurance. Even today there are sports where cis women equal or out-compete cis men such as target shooing, archery, horseback riding, and ultra-endurance competitions. In gymnastics small, muscular, limber bodies have the edge over taller, broader ones. A similar state of affairs obtains in figure skating.
Are we equal? Or are females smaller, more flexible, and have higher pain tolerance?
Yes, I think one could make a point that if team sports weren’t sex segregated, a phenom like a Megan Rapinoe or Angel Reese could make a spot on a co-ed team.
As a bench player. 2nd team. Maybe. But the rest of the females they play with? No chance.
There’s actually been a test of this. In 2017, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team played an exhibition against FC Dallas’s under-15 boys team. Megan Rapinoe’s team lost 5-2.
Of course, to answer that is as impossible as saying Megan Rapinoe and Katie Ledecky wouldn’t have been stars without sex-segregation. And, while differences in funding, respect, and competition almost certainly hold women’s achievements back, this essay is not arguing that testosterone plays no role in the development of muscle or that this has no implications for athletic achievement.
So, we’re saying that women are “inherently equal to men” but also “have higher pain tolerance” and “testosterone [does] play a role [in male] muscle development.” Got it.
Rapinoe and Reese might make a team. Maybe even become stars. But Katie Ledecky? Her personal best 8:11s 800m long course freestyle swim, the women’s world record in 2014, was beaten by six high school boys in 2016.
There’s a great site, boysvswomen.com, that should put a stake in the heart of this terrible women=men in athletics argument. For instance, Flo-Jo’s likely steroid-aided women’s 100m dash record from 1988 still stands today, 10.49s. 35 years of the most elite female Olympians have not beaten that record. But in 2016, four high-school boys did. And the record for a 15-year-old boy is 10.2s. The fastest woman of all time was beaten by a 15-year-old boy.
Indeed there has been sexism, lack of funding and promotion, and respect for female sports that has held females back. No disagreement there. But to decide that means we should abolish sex segregated sports does not follow. If anything, such a move reduces opportunities for the next female athlete who might not be a Megan Rapinoe, but might be good enough for 2nd team on a sex-segregated female squad.